Kelly Reagan is a one of a kind who goes out of her way to help deaf and hard of hearing make a better life for themselves. Kelly has been employed with Career & Recovery Resources, Inc. A United Way Agency as a Manager of Deaf and hard of hearing Services for more than 2 years.
Her role is to manage and map the path to success through education, training, and employment. She manages several programs run by Deaf professionals or professionals skilled in communicating with and for the Deaf. She’s well known among Houston and constantly makes an effort to reach out and help people identify and overcome barriers to employment. With further details, we’ve asked several questions to learn more about where, why, and how she became who she is.
Tell us your background.
I am truly honored to be asked to be in spotlight column by Mr. Long Duong. He had done a fantastic job putting together this website to bring the news to Houston deaf community.
I have been deaf since infant years. I was mainstreamed all through high school and used Signed English till college where I was exposed to deaf world and was introduced to American Sign Language. In college, I was in awe of meeting deaf and hard of hearing students from all over the state, other states, and overseas. I met my husband, Zac on our first day of student orientation and was immersed in deaf world shortly afterwards. My hobbies are reading, politics, and research. I enjoy mingling with people, and am always fascinated by their culture, histories, etc.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned when dealing with everyday situation life?
I have to constant remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in one day, and for me to take things one at a time to get things done. I learned how to prioritize the tasks to help me to deal with day to day basis.
Any obstacles you’ve encountered that you’ve yet to achieve?
I am truly proud of people who dedicated their time to formulate a deaf taskforce for emergency response in the deaf community after running through so many difficult obstacles last few years in serving the deaf community in wake of hurricanes. There are so many exciting organizations are setting up as well, such as Houston Deaf Network, Deaf Awareness Week, and much more. I am truly honored to witness such an exciting transformation which will have a positive impact on our community.
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
I will continue to contribute my support to make Houston one of the most accessible cities in America for deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind. There is a group of people who have the common goal to set up a centralized service for Deaf in Houston. My passion is to assist them and hopefully to see a deaf center established within 5 years. My personal goal is to be a housewife and a mother to our fur-kids and hopefully be a mother to Reagan children.
Any common stereotypes you’ve encountered?
The most common stereotypes of deaf are that all deaf can read lips. I get this question all the time, “Can you read lips?” I am nowhere near being proficient lip reader and it can be frustrating at times when people expect me to understand everything what they are saying. It is largely misunderstood of the perceptive of deaf people.
What are your challenges with the hearing community?
Lack of knowledge of deaf culture is probably one of the biggest challenges I have with the hearing community. Another big challenge is the cultural differences. Hearing people think and react differently. They might not understand why a deaf person reacts the way they do, and it contributes to lack of knowledge of deaf culture.
What was your experience like during your childhood, Where you allowed to play with others, deaf or hearing?
I was raised in a small town where everyone knew everyone. I grew up with my deaf and hearing classmates all through high school. I did not experience my first case of discrimination until I was in my teens looking for employment. That was my defining moment and I found my calling: I became a lifelong advocate.
How do you communicate with people who do not know any sign language?
That’s the beauty of technology that enables deaf and hard of hearing to interact with hearing counterparts without having to rely on interpreter 24.7 such as emails, instant messaging, video relay services, text messaging, and much more. My preferred communication mode is email. As for communicating with the public, I have a notepad that I carry in my purse for the written communication purpose.
Do you think that Deaf culture promotes isolation and anti-thinking of the hearing world?
No. We are fortunate to live in a society that embraces diversity in therefore, helping Deaf culture to promote the understanding of the American Sign Language. High schools and colleges across the country now offer American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, Deaf History, etc, it is one of the most vital example of the interaction between deaf and hearing.
Do you think that the anti-thinking Deaf people outnumbers the accepting Deaf people in the community?
Here in Houston, we have most diverse population of deaf, deaf/blind and hard of hearing from all degree of hearing loss. I would like to think that we are embracing the freedom of deaf, deaf/blind, and hard of hearing to make their own choices. We have deaf people who wear cochlear implants, cued speech, oral, tactile signs and American Sign Language. It is the culture that brings us together.
Any advice to deaf/hoh community?
“Be who you want to be; never allow others to define who you are.”
Thank you Kelly for taking the time to answer our questions. It was a delightful to have you as a spotlight for the month. For those of you who has any questions or concerns for Kelly, feel free to use comments or contact CRR for more information.